Mokihana’s Hawaiian Quilting Journey: Week One

In order to survive my grueling work schedule (7 days a week, sometimes 12-hour days), I decided to begin making a Hawaiian quilted pillow. Every Tuesday I attend a group where the focus in on our creativity; I’ve done beadwork and handspinning there, but for the summer decided to start doing some Hawaiian quilting, which I’ve been wanting to do for many years. Each woman brings what she wants to work on, so there is considerable freedom and variety in what kind of projects make their way out to the log cabin in the Oregon woods.

I thought I’d go to The Gathering and work on my pillow top while others did beadwork, sewing, rubber stamping and a myriad of other favorite pastimes. I mean, I’m the only local island girl there, and I’ve found that most mainland haoles, while very polite and somewhat interested in my background, obviously don’t have the same feeling for Hawaiian culture as I do, with the exception of Julie, who has embraced me and my Hawaiian culture with open arms.

Imagine my great surprise when I found out that 4 other women couldn’t wait to join me in making their own Hawaiian quilted pillows! I was delighted to show them how to start, and we agreed that today would be our first big day of cutting and basting. The women all went out and bought their fabric and were ready to begin.

Well. I do indeed have a grueling work schedule, so found myself last night at one a.m. (okay, this morning at one a.m.), trying to cut out my fabric so that I’d be all ready to go this morning. Well, for one thing, I inadvertently used the background fabric for my applique piece and the fabric had such a high thread count that I bent most of the pins trying to get them to go through all eight layers of my applique fabric. One point for the fabric.

Then, in trying to push the pins through, I stabbed myself right below my fingernail, and got blood on my lovely cream-colored fabric. Score another point for the fabric. Score: Fabric 2, Mokihana O. Okay, I got out the other piece of fabric and tried again. Same result, only on a different finger. Fabric 3, Mokihana O. This was getting ridiculous.

I finally managed to get the pattern cut out, but because my scissors were more dull than I thought they were, the end result was a somewhat raggedy-looking piece of fabric that was supposed to look like an ulu pattern. Fabric 4, Mokihana O. As if that wasn’t enough humiliation, the pattern was too big for my background piece and I had to give up on the whole idea of getting my piece ready for the next morning. Fabric 5, Mokihana O. I was not happy! To add to my distress, I dropped a loaf of French bread, pointy end down, right on top of one of my bare toes! Bread 1, Mokihana O.

This morning, I grumbled my way out through the lovely Oregon fields and farms, over winding, rolling roads, to the log cabin. When our creativity study was pau for the morning and women were ready to start working on their stuffs, out came the lovely fabrics and colors that my friends had brought, and while they were going to town on their pillow tops, I had to be content with teaching them how to do the Hawaiian quilt method, without being able to do any work on my own piece.

Not that I minded. I loved helping them and bringing part of the culture that I love into a thoroughly Oregon setting. I was blessed by their enthusiam and choice of fabrics. I loved that several of the little girls came in from playing outside and began cutting out their own snowflake patterns! I love that next week the women want me to bring in some Hawaiian music CD’s to listen to while we quilt! I love that I can share this part of my life and can introduce these women to a new-to-them art form that was birthed in me because I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in the nani-est place in the world!

Today I bought some new fabric, and will begin again.

However, my toe and fingers still hurt. Auwe!

Ulu Quilt Pattern 

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7 Responses to Mokihana’s Hawaiian Quilting Journey: Week One

  1. Hey! Looks like we got a few more folks in the neighborhood! I just saw your button on the HawaiiStories sidebar, so I thought I’d drop in and say welcome to the family! Looking forward to visiting your “Garden”!

  2. lisa says:

    Bleeding on the quilt is good luck. I can relate somewhat to your experience- I’ve been doing Hawaiian quilting for over 2 years now. I’ve completed one 22″ wall hanging and one cushion, and I have one 90″ quilt (quilting!) and one keiki quilt (applique almost done!) in progress. I think I’ve poked myself in more ways than I can count, and I’m still making mistakes. Good luck on your project!

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  5. Jackie says:

    Do you know that your own saliva will take out your blood? Been there … done that many times and it works!

  6. Mokihana says:

    I had heard of that but hadn’t tried it yet… but I will! (Except for the little bit that is the good luck part.) Mahalo!

  7. paauilogirl says:

    Moki you had me laughing so hard. Too funny girlfriend. -Renee

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